Losing Weight, Gaining Value

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Pharmaceutical Technology, Pharmaceutical Technology, October 2023, Volume 47, Issue 10

Novo Nordisk’s obesity treatment has been so successful the company is now top of the ‘value pile’ in Europe.

Demand and sales of Wegovy (semaglutide)—a weekly injectable weight loss therapy—have fuelled a surge in the market value of its Danish manufacturer, Novo Nordisk. The strength of this growth has seen the pharma giant become the most valuable company in Europe (1).

Soaring demand for the drug, celebrity endorsements, and a controlled launch onto the market in the United Kingdom have bumped up Novo Nordisk’s market share value. It has been reported that the company now has a market value worth £340 billion (€393 billion), which actually exceeds the worth of the entire Danish economy—£323 billion (€373 billion) (1).

And, the success is not limited to Europe, as the United States have also seen a 300% surge in drug prescriptions for obesity drugs, such as Wegovy and Ozempic, since early 2020 (2). However, global stocks of semaglutide (the active ingredient found within Wegovy) are running low, leading Novo Nordisk to restrict supplies of Wegovy while it tries to ramp up manufacturing efforts.

Added to the manufacturing challenges are some potentially disruptive regulatory concerns around the drug product. As reported by Bloomberg in late September 2023, the European Medicines Agency’s safety committee discussed potential safety issues linked to weight-loss and diabetes drugs, such as Wegovy, during anaesthesia (3). The probe from the European regulator’s safety committee follows guidance issued by the American Society of Anesthesiologists recommending that patients skip a dose of semaglutide containing drugs prior to surgery (4). Furthermore, Reuters has reported on an increasing scrutiny of regulators, both in Europe and the US, regarding the potential link between the obesity and diabetes drugs and suicidal thoughts in patients (5).


Despite these possible issues, which are being monitored by regulatory authorities and the drug manufacturers themselves, the market for weight-loss treatments, such as Wegovy, has the potential to reach a value of more than US$100 billion (€95 billion) by 2030 (6), which can only help further boost the pharma industry in the long run.


1. Kollewe, J. Wegovy Maker Novo Nordisk Becomes Europe’s Most Valuable Firm. The Guardian, 5 Sep. 2023.
2. Constantino, A.K. Ozempic, Wegovy Drug Prescriptions Hit 9 Million, Surge 300% in Under Three Years. CNBC, 27 Sep. 2023.
3. Kreshe, N.; Muller, M. EU Probes Anesthesia Complication for New Weight-Loss Drugs. Bloomberg, 27 Sep. 2023.
4. American Society of Anesthesiologists. Patients Taking Popular Medications for Diabetes and Weight Loss Should Stop Before Elective Surgery, ASA Suggests. ASAhq.org, News Release, 29 June 2023.
5. Respaut, R.; Terhune, C. Wegovy, Other Weight-Loss Drugs Scrutinized Over Reports of Suicidal Thoughts. Reuters, 28 Sep. 2023.
6. Jefferies. Weigh to Go: Assessing the Wider Implications of a Slimmer Society. Research Report, 28 Sep. 2023.

About the author

Felicity Thomas is the European/senior editor for Pharmaceutical Technology Group.

Article details

Pharmaceutical Technology Europe
Vol. 35, No. 10
October 2023
Page: 6


When referring to this article, please cite it as Thomas, F. Losing Weight, Gaining Value. Pharmaceutical Technology Europe 2023 35 (10) 6.